Music libraries and an expanding repertory: Suggested strategies for building diverse music library collections

Jessica M. Abbazio, Avery Boddie, Ellen Ogihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As curators and stewards of collections of scores, scholarship, and recordings designed for teaching, learning, research, and performance, music librarians often have a range of responsibilities. We select materials and maintain collections intended to support the curriculum; we provide access to content that meets the extra-curricular research and performance needs of our campus and wider communities; and we anticipate trends in scholarship and critical inquiry in order to facilitate serendipitous discovery and to spark curiosity in the minds of users. This is a large portfolio of tasks, and music librarians responsible for selection, as well as staff who administer budgets and oversee development of collection development policy, may feel overwhelmed as user interests expand beyond the scope of the Western art music that has traditionally driven the course of study in many schools and departments of music. This work may seem even more daunting to an early-career librarian who wants to explore areas of inquiry beyond the traditional academic musical canon but is still learning the foundational skills and strategies needed for effective development of a music library collection.1 Like previous generations of music librarians, many of today s early-career professionals have backgrounds in Euro-centric fields of study, and conducting effective collection development for materials that are not included in the traditional Western European art music canon presents unique challenges. Regardless of these challenges, and despite variations in institutional priorities related to scholarship or performance, music librarians can bring crucial skills and knowledge, developed through past musical training, experience, and study, to the task of diversifying library holdings. By building on these proficiencies and collaborating with colleagues, faculty, and students, music selectors and administrators can effect important changes in the make-up of our collections. The present thought piece explores a number of questions that the authors have faced when taking up the work to diversify the music library collections at our own institutions. In it, three early-career librarians draw on their lived experiences in order to articulate a number of the obstacles and opportunities that we have observed, to pose questions for the reader s consideration, and to provide suggestions for dismantling whiteness and white supremacy in music libraries through the development of broader collections of scores, scholarship, recordings, and other music library materials.2 The authors include music librarians who identify as Black or persons of color, as well as members of academia who have studied and worked in the fields of performance, education, and musicology, and we have interacted with music library collections in a wide range of contexts. We have recognized the dedication of our colleagues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-379
Number of pages27
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

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